The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges for nearly everyone. At Farmers’ Legal Action Group, our top priority is supporting family farmers and their communities so that farmers can stay on the land. Although our offices are closed to the public during this crisis, FLAG’s attorneys and staff are working full time to help farm families face the stresses of dealing with COVID-19 and its legal and financial consequences.
For free legal services and support, farmers can call our national toll-free hotline at 877-860-4349.
Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief – 3rd Edition
Announcing the third edition of our Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief, published on August 4, 2020. The First Edition of the Guide was published on April 13, 2020. The Second Edition was published on April 27, 2020. Due to changes in the programs, the Second Edition is quite different than the First Edition. The Third Edition updates the same topics that were covered in the Second Edition. In places, such as the chapter on the CARES Act SBA programs, the changes in the Third Edition are significant. Several of the programs discussed in this Guide are the product of the CARES Act—technically known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The CARES Act became law on March 27, 2020. In addition, this Guide covers changes to the CARES Act programs that were made in more recent legislation. Despite this additional legislation, and in some cases because of it, many parts of the law of COVID-19 relief remains confusing, and changes in the programs continue. This Guide also addresses various other topics and programs that have been established in response to COVID-19 and which are likely to impact farmers.
Navigating COVID-19 Relief for Farmers- updated August 2020
Here is an updated summary of COVID-19 relief for farmers, published in collaboration with our partners at Farm Aid, the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Rural Advancement Foundation-International, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
PPP Application Deadline Extended Until August 8, 2020 —Recent Changes Make Loans More Favorable to Farmers
The deadline for a COVID-19 relief program that can be useful to many farmers has been extended until August 8, 2020.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is run by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Farmers who have not already applied may want to consider applying for PPP, in part because recent changes to the rules may make the program more appealing to farmers.
Under PPP, self-employed people, including farmers, can receive low-interest loans that may be forgiven. The loans are fully forgiven if the farmer spends at least 60% of the loan money on payroll costs (including wages and certain employee benefits) over the next 24 weeks. The remainder must be spent on rent, utilities, or mortgage interest payments in order to be fully forgiven. To the extent the PPP loan is not forgiven, the interest rate is 1% and the repayment period is five years. There are no collateral requirements. In other words, even if the PPP loan is not forgiven, the loan terms are more favorable than the terms of many farm loans.
One important barrier for farmers that hope to use PPP is that the farmer must show a net farm profit on a 2019 IRS Form 1040 Schedule F. If the farmer shows a net farm loss on the 2019 Schedule F, the farmer is not eligible for PPP.
In sum, for many farmers a PPP loan can be a good option, and the deadline to apply is August 8, 2020. Farmers must apply through a lender. A copy of the PPP application, as well as a list of eligible lenders making PPP loans, can be found at: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program.
Updated Farmers’ Guide to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) June 17, 2020
On June 17, 2020, Farmers’ Legal Action Group published an updated Farmers’ Guide to Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). There have been a number of changes to the CFAP program since the first edition of this Guide was published on May 29, 2020. These include a new Handbook that USDA released that governs CFAP, and new rules in the Federal Register. That has meant changes to commodity eligibility, for example, and to the sort of documents that USDA expects farmers to have when they apply for CFAP. Some of the changes, unfortunately, have been confusing and contradictory. In addition, this Second Edition of the Guide includes more information on the possibility of farmer appeals of USDA decisions on CFAP, as well as on USDA’s discrimination complaint process.